My friend Selom wrote me an email today at work informing that my services would no longer be required.
She was hired.
Every weekday morning, after groggily grabbing my computer from my bedside chair, I would browse the news a bit, check up on my email and then, jump out of bed with a start, lay my computer flat on the desk and start the reloads of the “Mandy” and the “Craigslist-NYC-Film” pages, gearing up into my casual email address, getting ready for my morning film-job email-blast.
It sounds more energetic then it really is and my use of the past-conditional (“I would”) alludes to the fact that I actually do the job blast from my bed most weekdays now, in order to preserve warm feelings of sleepiness.
Anyway, the morning film-job email-blast goes out with specificity, using my knowledge of friends and associates to send people job listings customized to their specifications; editing jobs for editors, AC jobs for camera people, AD jobs for neurotic assholes (just kidding, film joke!) and what’s more I would filter out the bull-shitty listings offering “deferred compensation once we definitely get bought” or “the right experience for the right person” or “copy of the film provided!”. These are all flags that people are trying to get you to do things for free which, if you are no longer a student, you definitely don’t want to do.
“Altruism!” You might exclaim. “You are a saint, Saint Nicholas! Finding jobs for your peers and looking out for those who don’t even look out for themselves.”
I know, I know.
You can stop applauding.
But really it isn’t altruism but a recognition that the film industry is as much about who you know, as what you know, and that someone out there might remember the kind turn you did for them and help you out some day, or just speak well of you. It’s a small industry, as I’ve found in my limited years in it already, and good karma doesn’t hurt.
It’s also a really easy nice thing to do for someone, something that you can do while you yourself are applying for jobs. I’d encourage it, in fact, for everyone I know to do it. It can really help, even in giving the illusion that there are jobs out there every day, a thought necessary to the un- and under-employed.
Anyway, Selom was a good candidate for the email blast. A hard-working college-loan-bearing young woman, she had done me many good turns in the past and had consistently displayed her arch-competence. I knew that not only did she deserve a job, but that anyone I recommended her to would thank me for it.
But a funny thing happened on the way to the email-blast:
People started to get jobs.
One by one, my friends were claimed by TV shows, production companies, post houses. Ex-Beardo-Rob ended up working on Damages. John Beamer got a gig cutting things for freakin’ Google. Even sad-sack Alex Hilhorst got some job on a set where the people couldn’t speak English.
And then there was Selom, who had worked until sickness at an ice-cream parlor in Times Square, a person I thought indelibly deserved success.
And she was no longer in need. She had gotten an offer to be an assistant to a big-name director. Her personal assistant.
“Thanks, but no thanks.” She told me.
And to be honest, I was happy for her, but also, quite a bit disappointed.
You see, Selom was supposed to succeed. She was supposed to be one of the most employable people in the film industry out of our year. She had internships at Focus Features and Bravo. Impeccable grades, recommendations. But there she was, working late-shifts at a gelato stand and I thought:
“Well, if the most eminently employable person from our year is working at a gelato stand, hell, I’m not doing too bad.”
But then there she was. Employed, in a big-time job. With plenty of chance for climbing.
I had achieved a level of mediocre celebrity, by this point, for my lack of hire-able qualities.
So like I said, if you follow this blog, you probably know that I was on some fancy schmancy reality TV-show last week.
The show was called “Bethenny’s Getting Maried?” and I was on it because I had a job interview, which in the end, like many job interviews, did not end in success.
Now again, if you follow this blog, you will remember that I actually already plugged this bad job-interview territory when I went on Late Night With David Letterman, the only difference being, that was a joke.
In case you don’t know me and don’t know that I was joking, let me settle it: on the Late Show, I was acting.
I asked the director and the writer what they wanted and we improved some scenes and they used what was funny. It ended up very well and I’m very proud of it. I don’t think on the other hand that’s how most human beings act normally and certainly not me: it was shtick.
When I found out that I was on TV for a second (third?) time, I felt pretty embarrassed and vulnerable in a way I didn’t feel on Letterman.
The reason why?
Because that was a job interview and I wasn’t acting, or at least, I was only acting as much anyone acts when they’re trying to get a job.
But the truth is, it was a job interview I thought I had done well and there it was, replayed for the world to judge, where I wasn’t doing shtick, but just trying not to be unemployed.
When I went into the interview with Ms. Frankel, I had no idea why I was there.
Unless Bravo was trying to appeal to a schlubby 18-24 straight male demographic, I didn’t make much sense.
I had some food and TV experience, but it was all pretty low-level and none of it personal-assistant-grade.
I could only assume that, much like when I was called in for interview for some Bam Margiera show, that yet another person had decided it might be fun to make fun of me on national television and perhaps that could be a conceit of Ms. Frankel’s new show.
When I left the interview, however, I honestly thought I had nailed it.
Ms. Frankel and I talked about food and the best places to eat in her neighborhood. I was taking pop-quizzes from the crew. She talked about how I had to meet her dog “next time”.
And yes, there was that “party with you, cowboy” line.
I even spied her drawing hearts on my resume as I walked away.
I thought we had really vibed in an unexpected way, when I told her that I admired the way she took control of her brand, how she was able to turn her personality into a commodity.
She told me she thought I was a good, real person. And for a moment, I felt like I was talking to one too.
It was actually kind of touching, given my own expectations.
In fact, I was so confident that when I didn’t hear back for a week, I thought there must be something wrong. If the interview had gone that well, I thought, they’d have to let me know something.
But they didn’t. Week after week. And as my confusion turned to sadness, I realized that all of the ways I had been contacted had been blocked numbers, proxy email addresses. These reality show casting people know how to keep away crazies.
It was a month later I was told someone was hired, an intense-looking dude who during a quick chat back at Starbucks told me he used to work for Scott Rudin.
“I bet he gets the job.” I had thought then, and he did.
Eventually, I stopped sending emails to the one-time address I had been found through. I knew I only was supposed to follow-up so many times, but I gave up, well-before they called me.
All this, for a job I didn’t even think I wanted from the out-set, a job that I thought would be strange diversion for someone who wants to make art with his life.
But I didn’t get the job and I moved on.
When I found the episode online, several months later, I emailed it to my friends with the title: “My two-or-so minutes of… fame?”
Because as much my friends thought it was funny or cool or “big”, it was just another job interview I didn’t get.
I told the same thing in person to my friend Chadd, who had recently made me look real good in a commercial we collaborated on, that he directed.
He was trying to cheer me up after a movie-screening and I was trying to be thankful, cause he really made me look good in the commercial, in probably one of the first times I had really felt “taken care of” by a film director.
“Don’t sweat it man.” He told me, Ohioan-ly and I grumbled as I gave him an awkward man-hug as he left for the train.
Later that evening, I attended a U.S. Census Meeting for my job, intended to reeducate me on the proper procedure for filling out E.Q. forms.
It lasted till 11 o’clock.
In unrelated news, I was excited by words that would normally terrify me, when applied to something I just ate:
“It will act like a dustbuster,” The man told me. “Eradicating all of the nasties inside you and purging them from your body.”
What the man was referring to was the pungent and powerful “garlic pickle” (oily, pickled garlic) that he spreads liberally throughout your 6-dollar dish at The Dal Cart.
The cart, which resides currently on the southeast corner of 10th St and 2nd Ave, is named such for its two different kinds of lentils, one the normal yellow dal familiar to Indian restaurants across the city, the other a dark, mealy and flavorful stew, comprised of what appears to be French lentils. If you want to just get a taste of both of them, you can get a small container of both over rice for 3 bucks flat.
Or, if you’re willing to shell out 6 bucks, you can get what’s behind door number 2:
This, my friends, is a Chicken Tikka platter, comprised of the aforementioned double-dals, rice, and an ample helping of insanely moist and flavorful Chicken Tikka, which for the unseasoned, is what a kabab would look like if the people making it actually knew what the fuck they were doing as much as the Indians do.
To illustrate to you how good it was, I passed by the cart only for its proprietor to stop me with a piece of Chicken Tikka on a fork. I told him I wasn’t hungry and might come back later.
“Here. Try.” He commanded me jovially.
I took it. Walked a few steps. Ate it. Walked a few steps more. Turned around and ordered the platter.
But the all-star here, the finishing touch, is the “garlic pickle”, which the proprietor of the cart seems to hide like stealth bombs of spicy insanity throughout his dishes.
He’ll put his back to you when he’s mixing it, curled evilly over your dish. When he hands you back your metal container, it’ll be hidden, mixed in with your dal, or under a piece of chicken. It could be either with its consistency. And you won’t know until it’s in your mouth.
A delicious, dust-buster surprise.
THE DAL CART
Chicken Tikka Platter (Rice, Yellow Dal, French Lentils, Chicken Tikka, Garlic Pickle)- $6
SE Corner of 10th St and 2nd Ave (open till 11pm on weekends)
6 to Astor Pl, NQRW456 to 14th St-Union Sq.